No new arguments were presented on the House floor Tuesday; the bill primarily deals with municipal zoning reform and feigned to address Act 250 issues, shy of a few time-limited exemptions. It focused on large lot sizes, excess parking requirements, excess setbacks, and other local zoning requirements legislators felt inhibited housing growth.
Critics of the bill argued that municipal reform should be paired with rollbacks to Act 250, the state’s major land-use and environmental law. However, since the bill passed third reading in House with a voice vote, incremental progress will have to be settled for. Amendments were introduced to limit energy requirement that could drive up construction costs by tens of thousands of dollars, but it was disagreed to. Other amendments would have moved up some of the implementation dates, add reviews of current processes for inclusivity, and widen the priority housing project exemption in Act 250. They were met with varying levels of success.
After passage, the Senate Committees began reviewing the bill.
Two different House committees reviewed S.39 on Monday, passing the bill quickly to get it back to the floor in time for Friday adjournment. The bill encompasses significant increases in salaries for legislators, an entirely new benefits package, and more generous expense reimbursements. Proponents claim it will make legislative service more accessible to members of the public by moving compensation more in line with median wages across the state.Read more
Representative Beck presented the bill on the floor Monday. Major changes from the Senate involved a slightly increased average tax increase and a reduction in the tax newly-created reserve to help buffer property taxes in FY2025. In the Senate version, this fund was reduced from $22M to $13M.Read more
As the 2023 legislative session is winding down, legislators are rushing to give themselves a pay raise and a new benefits package. The effort would bring Vermont legislative pay closer to the $31,775 median for legislators across the country. We reported on this when the bill passed the Senate, at the time it looked like the bill would likely wait until next year, but the House is posturing to move aggressively on it.Read more
Wednesday afternoon, the House Environment & Energy Committee returned to hear from Josh Hanford (Commissioner, Department of Housing & Community Development) on a draft amendment related to the appeals process in Act 250 that allows 10 unrelated persons to petition for an appeal. The language that he was proposing, and that the VNRC and others had agreed to, would prevent such a group from appealing if some component of the project included affordable housing. The previous language that the Committee had passed would allow any “aggrieved” person to appeal except for affordable housing projects.Read more
H.206 was reviewed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on April 27 by Chairwoman Lyons and Legal Counsel (see previous reports on this bill here). It was determined favorable after making changes in the Blueprint for Health regarding how much insurers and Vermont Medicaid should increase the amount paid per-person to medical homes for providing the additional resources necessary for delivery of comprehensive primary care services to Vermonters.Read more
The Senate Finance Committee reconvened on Wednesday to review their changes to H.492, which sets the annual property tax rate calculation. The draft changes would decrease the income yield to $17,537 and the property value yield to $15,443. It’s worth noting that decreasing the yield will increase local tax rates. The non-homestead property tax rate would be increased from $1.388 to $1.391.Read more
Josalyn Williams (Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures) joined the Committee to provide testimony on legislative compensation across the country. Legislative salaries range from $0 to nearly $120k annually. The median pay is around $31,775 per year. However, for part-time legislatures, this number drops to $13,111 in annual compensation.Read more
On Thursday morning, the House Environment & Energy Committee returned to review their committee amendment to the bill. The changes included the recommended amendment by Commissioner Hanford from the previous day. The amendment also included the language requested by Green Mountain Power, as well as a study on the distribution of utility projects, where they were occurring, and what permits were required. Finally, the amendment would change the 5-5-5 rule to a 10-5-5 framework.Read more